YouTube Wednesday hired Def Jam and Warner Music executive Lyor Cohen as its global head of music, apparently to improve the site’s relationship with the recording industry.
“I’m confident that we can bridge the worlds of technology and music in ways that benefit everyone, instead of the zero-sum mentality that exists today,” Cohen, who began his music career as road manager for Run-DMC, said in a note to his YouTube team. “I’m proud to be a music man, and hope that the perspective I bring from both the creative community and the music business at large will help us, our music partners and artists grow and thrive together.”
Cohen, who founded boutique record label 300 Entertainment with backing from YouTube parent Google, joins YouTube full time Dec. 5, reporting to Robert Kyncl, global head of business, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. When he moves to YouTube, he plans to give up his role at 300 Entertainment, which is best known for rapper Fetty Wap.
“He has consistently been a pioneer, charting the course for where music is heading,” Kyncl said of Cohen. “As we enter the growth era of the music industry, Lyor is in a position to make tremendous difference in accelerating that growth in a fair way for everyone.”
YouTube has been accused by artists, managers and music organizations of hiding behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to avoid being held liable when users upload copyright material without permission. The law requires rights holders to issue take-down notices.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails told Billboard in May that YouTube was “built on the backs of free, stolen content.” A short time later 180 musicians, including Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift, signed a petition demanding “sensible reform” of the digital copyright act, the Video Link reported.
YouTube has denied it shorts artists.
“Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry — and that number is growing year on year,” YouTube said in a statement to Billboard in response to Reznor’s comments. Artists responded noting YouTube pays only a sixth of what they get from Apple Music and Spotify.
Cohen is expected to help smooth over relations with the music industry, much as Jimmy Iovine does for Apple Music and Troy Carter does for Spotify, Recode reported.